Democratic candidates flock to Iowa ahead of Fourth of July

Iowa caucus-goers braved heat and heavy rain to see Senators Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris at a picnic hosted by the West Des Moines Democrats and a Harris town hall.

Supporters+stand+for+Senator+Kamala+Harris+as+she+enters+for+her+town+hall+event+at+Confluence+Brewery+in+Des+Moines+on+July+3%2C+2019.+%28Katie+Goodale%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Democratic candidates flock to Iowa ahead of Fourth of July

Supporters stand for Senator Kamala Harris as she enters for her town hall event at Confluence Brewery in Des Moines on July 3, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Supporters stand for Senator Kamala Harris as she enters for her town hall event at Confluence Brewery in Des Moines on July 3, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Supporters stand for Senator Kamala Harris as she enters for her town hall event at Confluence Brewery in Des Moines on July 3, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Supporters stand for Senator Kamala Harris as she enters for her town hall event at Confluence Brewery in Des Moines on July 3, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

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WEST DES MOINES – More than 100 Iowans crammed into the Confluence Brewery in West Des Moines on July 3 after torrential rain caused a time delay and location change for presidential-nomination candidate Kamala Harris’ town hall.

The rain did not discourage West Des Moines resident Traci Gordon, who said Harris is among her top-four candidates for Democratic nominees this upcoming caucus season. Harris has done a good job advocating for criminal-justice reform and women’s reproductive rights, she said, and she likes to hear candidates “call out” President Trump.

“She’s a really interesting candidate to me, so whatever was going to happen, I was excited about seeing her today,” Gordon said, adding that she has not had a hard time narrowing down a favorite candidate among the field of 24 Democrats.

Katie Goodale
Doug Johnson claps for Senator Amy Klobuchar during a 4th of July picnic hosted by the West Des Moines Democrats in Legion Park on July 3, 2019. Johnson was a precinct captain for Joe Biden in 2007. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

In a crowded room in which the brewing company stores its beer, Harris campaign organizers quickly set up rows of folding chairs, but there were not enough to seat all the supporters who braved the rain.

One Harris supporter stood up during the Q&A portion of the town hall and shared a story about having an abortion 10 years ago. While she’s gone back and forth on whether that was the right decision for her, she said, she’s glad she had the opportunity to make a decision.

“… let’s continue with activism, and let’s continue to take to the streets,” Harris said on women’s reproductive rights.

RELATED: Photos: Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar in Des Moines (07/03/2019)

Ahead of the Fourth of July, Democratic presidential-nomination candidates have attended picnics and parades across the state. On July 3, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Harris, and Bernie Sanders attended events in Des Moines.

At a July Fourth picnic hosted by the West Des Moines Democrats on July 3, Harris and Klobuchar delivered speeches along with many statewide Democratic officials.

Channing Dutton, 64, an attorney and member of the Iowa chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, said at the picnic that climate change is “the only issue” for him. The presidential-nomination debates last week were disappointing because the candidates did not talk enough about climate change, he said.

Katie Goodale
Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Kamala Harris greet each other during a 4th of July picnic hosted by the West Des Moines Democrats in Legion Park on July 3, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

At the picnic stood a wooden billboard that graded various candidates on how they have addressed climate change. Klobuchar and Harris both received C grades, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Sen. Cory Booker both received A’s.

“Every new storm makes it more and more clear that the future my children and my grandchildren are going to face is so different than the past that I lived in,” Dutton said. “So I can’t bear the thought of not acting right now.”

Doug Johnson, an attendee of the picnic and 2007 precinct captain for Joe Biden, said he wants a candidate that will be able to win over President Trump’s supporters. Some candidates, such as Klobuchar, have spent much of their campaign condemning Trump, but Johnson said that will not help in trying to move those voters to the Democratic side of the aisle.

“Some of the people who support [Trump] — they’re not all bad people,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of hardworking people there — they’re just misguided.”

Democratic caucus-goers have differing opinions on whether they like to see candidates speak out against Trump in speeches, based on many voters The Daily Iowan has spoken with on various campaign trails.

Katie Goodale
A climate 2020 billboard gives letter grades to a handful of democratic candidates during a 4th of July picnic hosted by the West Des Moines Democrats in Legion Park on July 3, 2019. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Harris and Klobuchar both said in their speeches at the picnic that Trump is a threat to U.S. democracy.

“Our Framers imagined a moment like this… where there would be a time our democracy is challenged,” Harris said at the picnic.

Sanders held an Immigration Roundtable in West Des Moines on July, and he was slated to attend a Fourth of July Parade in Ames on July 3. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke are expected to attend a Fourth of July parade in Independence on July 4.

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